2024 VinFast VF 8 Pros:
2024 VinFast VF 8 Cons:
Very firm seat
Intrusive driving aids
Steering a bit evasive
Encinitas, California – As with many manufacturers, the road to market is not an easy one for the Vietnamese manufacturer. Despite some production delays, a restructuring of the North American organization and changes in the sales approach, we finally got our first test drive of the 2024 VinFast VF 8 SUV.
Sharp learning curve
VinFast is part of Vingroup which, like Hyundai in South Korea, plays an important role in the Vietnamese economy. The automotive division is young and has already taken an important turn since its recent founding in 2017, that is going all electric. VinFast, which in its early days produced cars under license with BMW, later produced small cars for the domestic market and is now moving to conquer international markets in electric mode. The VF 8 was designed by the prestigious Pininfarina firm. Its proportions are in every way similar to that of a Ford Mustang Mach-e. The VF 8 is 4.75 meters long by 1.93 meters wide and 1.67 meters high.
Still a young and immature model
After more than 30 years of driving vehicles, one develops a sixth sense that quickly gives clues about the models one drives. We quickly understood that the VF 8 is still a work in progress. VinFast has done what it takes to develop a high-end vehicle. However, there is still a lot of fine-tuning to be done to fine-tune the product.
For example, there is a full suite of driver assistance features, including functions such as automatic high beams and traffic sign recognition, and other driving aids. The problem is that they are on the one hand far too intrusive (we had to disconnect the functions after 30 minutes to avoid going crazy) and on the other hand victim of teething problems. We lost the navigation screen, and some electronic controls were not working properly.
We also tried, without success, the “Hey VinFast” voice command that uses the Alexa system. We had some difficulty with the 15.6-inch iPad-style screen that contains all the functions. From adjusting the side mirrors to the radio, the air conditioning, and steering wheel adjustments, the sunroof and heated seats, everything is adjusted via the screen. A VinFast employee spent 20 minutes going over the key features with me. Those who are digitally averse will have some trouble adjusting. The only control that’s off-screen is a radio volume knob with redundancy on the left side of the steering wheel and the cruise controls on the right side of the wheel.
Not really comfortable
The VF 8‘s interior is modern, attractive, and with quality materials like the vegan leather that covers the seats and dashboard. However, the seats are almost hard, even for those who are used to German driving. The suspension calibration also needs work. The ride is too firm for a luxury SUV and the vehicle hops and dances on bad pavement.
The shocks do a good job of absorbing bumps and potholes, it’s the calibration that needs work. The body is solid and roll is well controlled. However, more feedback from the steering wheel would be appreciated. VinFast pointed out that it dressed the VF 8 in soundproofing glass that makes the cabin very quiet. You have the choice of a normal or sport driving mode. Switching from one mode to the other didn’t really change much except making the SUV far too excitable in sport mode – it’s like giving caffeine to a squirrel.
Another little irritant is the central tunnel. A relic from the first life of the VF 8 in Vietnam which was a model with an internal combustion engine. This tunnel was necessary for the drive shaft going to the rear wheels. To reduce the costs in the development of the new model, the tunnel remained in place. As a result, you have a large center console that limits the space in the front and slightly in the rear. A problem that should disappear with the first serious upgrade to the model.
An excellent warranty
Include with the vehicle is a 10-year or 200,000 km warranty. The battery is guaranteed for 10 years with unlimited mileage. VinFast provides a free charger with home installation. If you don’t want a charger (or already have one) VinFast gives you the equivalent of 3 years of free charging on the Charge Up network. You also get 10 years/unlimited mileage roadside assistance. Like the latest automotive start-ups, VinFast will also do OTA (Over the air) updates adding new features regularly to keep the vehicle fresh.
The first models arrive in Canada in June and the base price is set at $57,500. This price is eligible for the Federal grant and depending on the Province, the total rebate can amount to up to $12,000, . This puts the VF 8 in the running in this segment. VinFast has shelved (for now at least) the idea of leasing the battery on a monthly basis, but the idea has not been completely abandoned.